Hare Krishna everyone.
Humble pranaamas to all.
I wanted to post a few spiritual questions & answers on my FaceBook account to explore the possibility of some of my friends taking some interest in KC. I wanted the answers to be as brief as possible yet powerful enough intending maximum impact. The idea is also to get them to read a few lines from Srimad bahagavatam and Bhagavada Gita and at the same time keep it generic.
I would be very grateful if you could kindly proof read my attempt in doing the Q&A to ensure that I am not making any contradictions to Swami Prabhupada's teachings. These answers are of course based on Swami Prabhupada’s books and articles and also articles from the various ISKCON devotees. I intend to post only one Q&A each day on my FB account.
1) I am sure some of you may have wondered who we are actually. I mean, yes, we have somehow been born in a particular family, been given a name etc, got a reasonable body and all but we have had no say in all this really. And we have heard about us being souls and not the body etc. So what is the conclusive answer?
Answer: - The scriptures very scientifically and conclusively say that we are spirit souls and we are eternal. We are parts and parcels or children of a supreme person, the chief of all, whom we call as Supreme God.
This body is a machine that has been given to us for a particular duration of time (with an expiry date) based on our previous activities (karma). The body can be of a human or of any of the other species (8.4 million in all as per the scriptures). So every living entity has a soul. And once the duration given to the body is over, the soul transmigrates to another body which will vary depending on the deeds.
Following links provide more information-
Beautifully explained by Srila Prabhupada in this interview-
Following is from Bhagavad Gita-
For the more scientific ones, the following video gives a good explanation-
And it makes sense to me, because the supreme intelligent person who created all these zillions of universes and living beings would not create something so temporary (like our human life) and without any specific purpose. It would just be illogical that our life would just be over in this one life as there is really no point then.
2) Yes ok we are eternal, never dying souls. So, why are we here with a physical perishable body? What is the purpose of this entire material creation? And why are we bound by the material laws of birth, old age, disease and death (that comes uninvited)? What we have learned to accept as natural, is it really the entire truth? Why are we put here under different favourable/unfavourable circumstances and who decides these circumstances?
Answer: - Scriptures say we are originally spiritual beings with a superior spiritual form and originally residents of the kingdom of god (referred to as Vaikuntha in the scriptures). There is no influence of time in Vaikuntha, no anxieties of the material world and all entities live eternally and peacefully. Size of this Vaikuntha is inconceivable and is at least 3 times the size of the entire material manifestation. The entire material manifestation itself with its innumerable universes is inconceivable for the tiny human intelligence, which is still just scratching the surface, but is detailed in the scriptures. So Vaikuntha is much beyond human comprehension and reach. Vaikuntha has innumerable number of spiritual planets and residents who are devotees/associates of the lord.
Description of Vaikuntha in Srimad Bhagavatam-
In fact the whole of the above chapter is a good read for description of the kingdom of god-
Same thing summarized here-
If it is so nice there, then why are we here on this planet?
We were all devotees of the lord at some stage in his abode Vaikuntha and were absolutely aware that the lord provides for all. He is the supplier, the supreme, the most kind and just master. And because we were totally immersed in devotional service to the lord, we were pure souls.
However, at some stage some of us developed some flaws like envying the lord himself or envying some of lord’s favoured devotees. We wanted to be supreme masters like God, ourselves. The false ego developed. We wanted to enjoy being the masters, separate from God.
Some others developed lust – lust for possessions, other women etc.
And these result in our downfall to the material world.
As per our scriptures this happens with only a minority which is less than 10% of the inhabitants of the spiritual world. We are given an appropriate body with sense organs fit to vent out this lust and are sent to the material world to redeem ourselves, life after life (repeated cycles of life and death) till at least some of us reach the stage of realizing the futility of it all and then enquire about the supreme God. And then finally by the mercy of a spiritual master when some of us understand God and respect him, we surrender to him in love and devotion and finally go back to the kingdom of God.
Check this link for more explanation-
This whole material world has been created by the lord for criminals or impure souls like us who sort of rebelled against the very lord who supplies us everything. He created this whole material world with the zillions of universes to satisfy our sensual needs and each and every planet is full of life, though they have varying bodies as per the conditions. And these forms may be beyond human visibility.
Check the following links for more details and explanation on why this material world was created-
3) Now the question may arise why these flaws develop? Why didn’t God just create perfect beings? Why is evil created?
Answer: - The answer is that we as parts and parcels of god have got the same qualities as God though it is in small fractions as compared to him. And one of the qualities is independence. So all of us have got the minute independence to decide whether we want to be a good living entity obeying God’s laws, serving God, and thus stay in his abode or we can choose to be rebels and choose to be our own masters, and enjoy separately in this material world, even though for that enjoyment also we have to depend on God to provide the facilities.
This desire to become the same as the lord (envy) develops in some and as a result other flaws like lust, anger etc also creep in.
And these result in us falling down to the material world (sort of a prison house). And as we go round in the cycle of birth and death mixing with the material elements, some of us just don’t learn the lessons and keep getting dragged more and more towards the mode of ignorance (combination of atheism, lust, greed and anger). And we end up being evil.
As Srila Prabhupada famously quoted “God does not desire to create evil, but man's evil activities provoke God to create an evil situation.”
The scriptures have got details of the entire planetary system including heavenly planets and hellish planets. Heavenly planets are planets with thousand times more facilities for sensual pleasure than earth and, people who do pious activities on earth, following the scriptures, go there. And evil leads to hell, have no doubts.
Please refer to the following links for description of planetary systems including hellish planets-
Video description of hellish planets -
The following chapter describes how the living entity can slide towards hell.
This is quite powerful-
However, the heavenly planets are still within the material world and hence susceptible to the same material laws of old age, disease and death, though the living entities there live for millions of earth years. Scriptures say that time is relative in different planetary systems. So one day in a particular planet is potentially millions of years on earth.
4) Ok fine, but it is not fair for God to create these sufferings in the world. What is reason for the sufferings in the world? Why does God make people suffer?
Answer: - God does not make us suffer. We choose to suffer ourselves by our actions and by choosing to be ignorant about God’s rules. The sufferings are the reactions of our own actions in either this life or previous lives.
Also as mentioned before, the material world is a sort of prison house where we have been put to redeem ourselves, though such is God’s kindness that he provides full facilities even in this prison house. There will be sufferings, but they are there to redeem us.
When a child misbehaves, we chastise or punish the child, but that is to correct his or her misbehaviour. Similarly, God gives us reactions to our actions (in the form of sufferings for bad deeds and happiness for good deeds) to cure us of our material flaws like lust, envy, greed etc. Every action of ours has a reaction in this material world, and that is called karma.
So the best way to alleviate someone’s sufferings is actually helping them reinstate their last relationship with God.
Please read this chapter from Srimad Bhagavatam to see why we get bound to this material cycle of sufferings-
Following is explains how painful birth is actually-
5) But I am happy with my condition right now? I am happy with my situation and don’t see the need to change anything?
Answer: - Our scriptures say that the lord’s illusory energy is so powerful that even a hog who lives in despicable conditions, eating stool, is happy about its body and is perfectly happy with its conditions. But it’s just the hog’s ignorance. Same goes with some people. Please check the following link-
Materialistic life is no doubt very painful. As soon as one acquires a material body, he must always suffer three kinds of miseries: miseries caused by other living beings, miseries caused by the elements (nature), and miseries caused by his own body and mind.
Sometimes due to previous good deeds done in a past life one may have a relatively longer time of pleasure, but an intelligent person looks at the sufferings caused without any apparent reasons to people around them, and concludes that this could happen to him as well. And he starts enquiring about the reasons before his term of suffering starts.
Check these links to see the human state in the present Iron Age-
6) So how does God record our activities?
Answer: - The scriptures give the example of a tree with two birds, one who is eating the fruits of the tree and the other who is witnessing. The one who is taking pleasure of the fruit represents us (our soul or jivatma) and the witness is the supersoul i.e. God himself (in his partial representation as paramatma or supersoul) who resides in each and everyone’s hearts and witnesses each of our thoughts and actions and sanctions the reactions accordingly.
God is Omniscient/Omnipresent. He is present even in the tiniest atoms.
Please read this excellent section from Srimad Bhagavatam-
7) Why did God create us in the first place? We didn’t want any of this hassle.
Answer: - Almost the same reason as the reason we create children. We created children because we wished to and we have the independence/freedom and ability to do that. He created us so that he could share and expand his unlimited happiness. Pleasure multiplies when we share our assets and our happiness with our children. Same applies to God.
We can sustain and provide happiness to only a few children. But the lord has infinite happiness, infinite power and capabilities. So he has created innumerable children to share this happiness. He provides for everyone, right from the ant to the elephant. He has infinite potency. It is another thing that some humans misuse this facility and overuse the resources that God provides for selfish sense gratification and unnecessary bodily comforts and for a false illusion of status, and thus create problems for all living entities by disturbing the balance.
As the famous quote goes – “The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not for everyone’s greed.”
God created us for his pleasure and we are meant to do him service to please him. However, doing service to God gives equal pleasure to the servitor as well, unlike in the material world. That is the greatness and kindness of God.
God reciprocates many times over for those who service him sincerely in pure love and to those who serve him without expectations. However, if we choose not to serve him, then we would have to serve his external energy, Maya, or illusion, which is what we are doing in this material world by serving our wife/husband, children, company, boss, nation, senses etc. And we never get complete satisfaction in spite of being sincere in our service. And also the service is temporary. We serve a family, nation etc in this life and in the next life we would have another family/nation etc and the cycle would continue until we come to the point of serving our supreme master himself. Then we escape this cycle.
8) So why was I born in ignorance? Why don’t I remember God from birth?
Answer: - Basically we are here in this material world because we are separatists/rebels against God and we wanted to be the Big Boss ourselves. And hence part of the punishment is that when we are born, we have a layer of Maya (lord’s illusory energy) which masks our intelligence and hence we forget our constitutional position and our relation with God. This way we give a lot of importance to ourselves. We are self centred and think about only our own happiness, forgetting that ultimately the supplier is someone else.
However, God being ever merciful and keen to get us back to Godhead, resides in our hearts, and when we become perplexed with our circumstances and when we sincerely search for answers, he provides the answers through a spiritual master or prophet, or their books.
Please read the following for details about the actual pains suffered during birth which also results in masking of our intelligence-
9) And what happens after death?
Answer:- Please watch these excellent videos-
The mistake of modern civilization is that man does not believe in the next life. Because of ignorance he thinks this is the only life and he should just enjoy irresponsibly just for sense gratification. Intoxication, slaughtering poor animals to satisfy their tongues, illicit sex and working their whole life simply for money and comforts without even thinking about God are the common principles nowadays. But whether one believes or not, the laws of nature are very stringent and it will act. Next life is there, and one has to suffer if one does not lead a responsible life in terms of the injunctions of authoritative scriptures.
One may be ignorant of the rules set by the government of a country, but even if he offends in ignorance, he would need to pay for the crime. Same applies to god’s laws.
Scriptures say that the earth is the karma bhoomi or place where you get to earn your credits, good or bad. And the human form is the only form in which one can do this. And then based on the credits earned, after death, you either enjoy in heaven or suffer in hell or get reborn back on earth. Of course, if you become a devotee of the lord, you don’t take a birth again. You go back to his abode.
10) I acknowledge that there is God and hey, I know he is great and have due respect for him. But I want to lead my life my way. What’s wrong with that? I am not causing any harm to anyone. So I suppose God should not have any issues with me.
Answer: - Yes that’s fine. God does not interfere with one’s independence. But only as long as one follows the rules. And if one breaks a rule, he has to pay the price. The issue is that most of us at present do not refer to the rule book (scriptures) and conveniently develop our own views about rules. We don’t realize that we are breaking the rules every moment. For example, killing innocent animals for the satisfaction of one’s tongue is breaking God’s rule but we are literally slaughtering animals incessantly, even though he has provided enough vegetation to support all. So how can there be peace amongst humans?
Especially the cow which God has given special status and which provides nourishment for the entire human race, we don’t even have gratitude towards that. We slaughter it and eat it ungratefully.
Even in the bible one of the commandments say “Though shall not kill”. Now this is not meant for just humans but all living entities. But check the cruelty of humans-
And all these are factors causing the increasing sufferings of human beings.
11) I want to enjoy my current way of life till a certain age and am not ready to make the compromises/sacrifices right now for a spiritual life. Maybe when I reach old age, I will start my spiritual life.
Answer: - There are a few points on this-
- There is no guarantee that one will reach old age. Each day we read about people of different age groups dying due to various reasons. So it would be foolish to think that we won’t be next. We should always be alert to making the best use of our human life.
- Spiritual life actually brings true happiness and satisfaction to the soul. So the notion that one would not enjoy in spiritual life is incorrect. On the contrary the actual enjoyment starts when we begin our devotional service to God.
- It is never too early to start devotion of the lord. The sooner the better, because as in any field, here also it takes time to reach a reasonable level of perfection. Bhakt Prahlad became a staunch devotee of God at the age of five. So did Dhruv. And there are numerous other examples.
12) So what is the way out? How do we get out of this cycle of birth, suffering and death then?
Answers: - God has given humans higher consciousness and intelligence just to try and understand God and the whole situation that he is in. To try and understand the futility of his pursuance of material desires. To try and understand the real nature of his self and understand that just satisfying the needs of the body and senses (led by mind) is not his goal in life and will not lead him anywhere in the end in terms of happiness and satisfaction. To understand that real bliss and happiness is not in lording over others and over the material nature for one’s sense satisfaction.
The only way out of this cycle is by becoming a devotee of the lord, by developing love for God and surrendering to him. However, there is a process of doing this. And nowadays most processes have become corrupt because of the dilution of the rules and regulations. A regulated process is required to make one pure and thus qualified to go back to Godhead.
For those who want to know the perfect process to get out of this cycle, please click following-
So hmmmm….who is this supreme person? Is he a person at all? Why are there so many gods?
Answer: - All religions are based on the same principle i.e. all agree that there is a supreme lord who is all powerful, and all say that there is only one lord.
And that is a fact as per the scriptures. There is only one supreme lord though he is called by different names like Jehovah, Allah, Krishna/Rama/Hari.
The lord sends various prophets to teach the people based on time, place and circumstance. And depending upon the purity of the concerned society, the prophet prescribes the cure i.e. the process to get the people back to God consciousness, which is called religion. However all religions have a common ground – they all acknowledge the supreme power, they all give importance to continuously praising the lord by chanting his holy names, they all preach compassion for all living entities, they all preach non-violence. And a man without religion is no different than an animal as per the scriptures.
But unfortunately over a period of time religion has been twisted and amended by unscrupulous people for their convenience and hence the sorry state of the world currently. In the western countries, churches are closing down by the dozen. People are no longer interested in God. And as the saying goes, where there is no God consciousness, the feelings of compassion (for men and animals) and love also decrease. People become self-oriented and work solely for selfish needs. This needs to be changed as it only leads to more frustration and trouble. God consciousness should be revived.
The supreme lord has lots of powerful personalities called demigods (330 million as per our scriptures), who have been designated as managers of his infinite energies and creations but they all have only one master, the supreme god. But similar to us humans, they are also children of god, though they are the better ones, the pious ones and devotees of the lord. Humans can also get promoted to a demigod through pious activities.
God is not something void or impersonal like some people called Mayavadis proclaim. God is someone who is full in all six opulences —one who is full in strength, fame, wealth, knowledge, beauty, and renunciation. Our scriptures have detailed description of the activities of the lord and his qualities.
For those interested, please check the following link to see what the scriptures say about God-
This is from Bhagavad Gita - http://vedabase.com/en/bg/7
Couple of videos-